When Kansas lawmakers introduced a bill outlawing municipal broadband network, there was no sponsor's name on it: rumor has it that's because it was written by a lobbyist called John Federico, who is president of Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association. The bill masquerades as a pro-competition measure (pro-competition initiatives from the cable industry! Pull the other one), but it effective prohibits measures like the wildly successful Google Fiber project in Kansas City. Given that the big carriers and cable companies have shown no interest in providing fiber or even reasonably priced, reasonably provisioned broadband in most markets, this means that most people in Kansas can kiss any hope of a read broadband life goodbye.
While the bill lets cities and towns offer service in "unserved areas," it defines such areas as those where at least 90 percent of households lack access to any broadband service, whether it be "fixed or mobile, or satellite broadband service" at the minimum broadband speed defined by the Federal Communications Commission, which is 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up.
Since satellite can be used pretty much anywhere at broadband speeds (but with annoying latency), it would be hard to identify any "unserved areas" as defined by this legislation. The bill does allow networks "for internal government purposes," but not for any users outside the government.
The bill has unsurprisingly drawn outrage. "The language in this bill prohibits not only networks that directly offer services but even public-private partnerships and open access approaches," wrote Christopher Mitchell of Community Broadband Networks. "This is the kind of language one would expect to see if the goal is to protect politically powerful cable and telephone company monopolies rather than just limiting local authority to deliver services."
The city of Chanute, which "has established its own fiber optic network for government use and as a service to local businesses," condemned the legislation, according to the Chanute Tribune.
Who wants competition? Big cable tries outlawing municipal broadband in Kansas
In a new paper in Progress, Oxford economist Vuk Vukovic argues that the key to re-election in local politics is to be just corrupt enough: giving lucrative contracts and other benefits to special interests who’ll fund your next campaign, but not so much that the people refuse to vote for you.
Doubtless you’ve laughed at the ideological war between the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea. I laughed along with you: having grown up in politics, I know firsthand about the enmities that fester between groups that should be allies — groups whose differences can only be parsed after months of study, but who are seemingly more at odds with one another than their obvious political opponents on the “other side” of the debate.
BB pal Rob Walker says: My Significant Objects co-conspirator Joshua Glenn and I have started a new adventure: PROJECT:OBJECT will publish four “themed” volumes of stories-about-objects from an all-star cast of writers. Volume 1, POLITICAL OBJECTS launched today, with stories from Luc Sante, Lydia Millet, and Ben Greenman. This series will continue on HiLobrow through […]
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]